Chambers Wharf
Chambers Wharf

Thames Water has won planning consent for the proposed 15-mile ‘super sewer’ tunnel beneath London.

The announcement that Chambers Wharf will be a major site for work was made just hours before Parliament rose for a month’s recess.

The go-ahead for major works is the result of a joint decision made by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Environment Secretary Liz Truss.

Southwark Council Leader Peter John immediately condemned the decision to use Chambers Wharf as a drive site when inspectors had deemed it to have “serious deficiencies”.

“I challenge Eric Pickles & Liz Truss to come to Southwark to explain their decision to residents near Chambers Wharf,” said Cllr John shortly after the decision was announced on Friday morning.

“Education and lives will be destroyed by government’s terrible decision to build the ‘super sewer’ from Chambers Wharf,” he said in reference to the nearby Riverside Primary School and housing.

Cllr John says that the decision will be challenged.

Save Your Riverside action group, set up when Thames Water purchased Chambers Wharf, has also condemned the decision.

“It does the credibility of the major infrastructure planning regime no good in the eyes of the public for proposals that were shown to be flawed in preparation, and then shown to be half-baked when tested at the Examination, to nonetheless be given consent by ministers with minimal regard for the impact on Londoners.”

Liberal Democrat councillor for Riverside ward Hamish McCallum said: “As local Lib Dem councillors for the Chambers Wharf site, we are outraged by this decision. We are shocked that after Planning Inspectors had agreed with the Save Your Riverside Group, local councillors and the local MP that the tunnelling direction be reversed, two Conservative Ministers then ignored their recommendation and approved the original plans.

“To us, this makes a complete mockery of the planning process and appears to leave the justification for using Chamber Wharf as a drive site in question. We are exploring if any other options are available at this stage and are simply appalled.”

Simon Hughes, MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, said: “I know that my constituents who live, work and go to school along the riverside in Bermondsey will be very disappointed by the details of the planning decision for the construction of Thames Tideway Tunnel. Despite positive changes which will benefit Chambers Wharf, the wider community will of course be frustrated that the plans for a drilling site in Bermondsey have not been reconsidered.

“I will of course continue to work with local residents, businesses and others in the community to win maximum environmental protection and minimum disturbance in Bermondsey and the rest of our borough.”

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Cllr Darren Merrill

Each year, Southwark’s five community councils award thousands of pounds in funding to local environmental improvement projects. This scheme is known as Cleaner Greener Safer and in the next year £1.8 million is available across the borough.

Projects can be put forward by individuals or community groups with innovative ideas to improve their areas to make their communities cleaner, greener or safer.

To mark the launch of the 2015/16 funding round, Surrey Docks Farm hosted a special event on Saturday.

Surrey Docks Farm has been awarded almost £150,000 towards improvements since the CGS programme first began in 2003. Visitors to the farm saw work in progress on the latest project, awarded this year, to install solar panels on two of the farm buildings. The solar panels will become a renewable energy source for the farm and ensure the site is more environmentally responsible through green energy production.

Cllr Darren Merrill, cabinet member for environment, recycling, community safety and volunteering, said: “I’m delighted to be launching the Cleaner Greener Safer capital programme for 2015/16. Since 2003, a total of £30,393,000 has been awarded to 1,966 projects in Southwark with 1,585 now completed. It’s great that so many people care for their communities and want to make the areas they live and work in the best they can be. I am pleased we can continue to help them achieve this through this initiative.”

Gary Jones, Surrey Docks Farm manager said, “Surrey Docks Farm has benefitted enormously from grants awarded by Southwark’s Cleaner Greener Safer programme.  Through the programme we have been able to open up Riverside Walk to create a direct link to the farm and a pleasurable place for residents and visitors to stroll along. CGS funding has also benefitted our Bloomin’ Southwark project, which enables us to take our horticultural expertise into the local community encouraging people to make use of their outdoor spaces for growing and greening.”

From new play opportunities and sports facilities, to community gardens and food growing projects, the programme has supported healthier lifestyles and helped revitalise communities. Fencing and lighting projects have created safer environments and problem spaces prone to anti-social behaviour have been transformed with imaginative designs to enhance the areas.

Anyone can apply for a Cleaner Greener Safer grant either as an individual or a group, but you must live or work in the community council area where you are proposing the scheme. Ideas for the CGS capital programme must demonstrate that they will make an area cleaner, greener or safer with a permanent, physical improvement and all projects are subject to permissions being granted, e.g. planning, listed building, Highway Authority etc.

The closing date for entries is Friday 7 November 2014 and successful applications will be announced at community council meetings in January and February 2015.

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To find out more information or to apply online, visit www.southwark.gov.uk/cleanergreenersafer

At last month’s council assembly meeting Riverside ward councillor Eliza Mann tabled the following question:

Is the leader aware of concerns about potential asbestos exposure from the Thames Tunnel site at Chambers Wharf, which is due to rubble from a demolished cold storage building remaining on-site for more than a year? Will he order Thames Water to clean up the site immediately?

Southwark Council leader Cllr Peter John replied:

We are aware of this situation and have been in discussion with Thames Water, to mitigate any risks in relation to this issue. As a result, Thames Water has reduced the risk to health through the clearing of the loose asbestos debris on the site and by the covering of the stockpile on site to prevent ‘wind whip’ of any dust and fibres from it and the site is not causing any statutory nuisance.

Control of asbestos on construction sites is enforced by the Health & Safety Executive, not the council. We are in dialogue with the Health and Safety Executive in terms of any enforcement action that they are undertaking, in relation to Chambers Wharf.

It is disappointing that Riverside Ward councillors have not raised this with officers given their concerns about the situation.

 

Some of the entries in the 2013 competition displayed at a community council meeting.

The Salmon Youth Centre and Cllr Eliza Mann have teamed up to organise another Bermondsey in Bloom competition.

Over the next few months, young people from Salmon Youth Centre will take to the streets of Bermondsey with a camera and a sharp eye for good looking gardens.

There will be prizes and certificates for the top three entrants (chosen by independent judges) in each of the following categories:

  • Balconies and window boxes
  • Pubs and businesses
  • School gardens
  • Community gardens
  • Edible gardens and allotments
  • Estates gardens
  • Front gardens
  • Wildlife gardens

The competition is open to all residents and organisations in Grange ward, Riverside ward and South Bermondsey ward.

The entry form is available on the Salmon website – or you can drop in to the youth centre in Old Jamaica Road and pick up a paper copy from reception.

The closing date is Friday 22 August

Winners will be announced at the September meeting of Bermondsey & Rotherhithe Community Council.

Rotherhithe-based charity Time & Talents wants to set up an educational centre which will offer at-risk young people and vulnerable adults horticulture and construction qualifications, coaching them in workplace skills, supporting their transition into apprenticeships or employment. All growing will take place in communal areas on local estates, increasing ownership and wellbeing.

The charity has applied for nearly £25,000 from the Engage Mutual Foundation whose community awards are determined by a public vote. So far Time & Talents has notched up 63 votes but needs many more to be in with a chance of gaining the cash.

You can vote online until the end of May to show your support for this local initiative.

Southwark Council and the the Save Your Riverside campaign are  urging residents and Londoners to voice their opinions on the super sewer at the Planning Inspectorate’s open floor hearings on Thames Water’s proposed Thames Tideway Tunnel or ‘super sewer’.

One such hearing will be held this Friday (22 November) at Glaziers Hall near London Bridge. The session starts at 9.30am with registration from 9am.

“All residents opposing the use of Chambers Wharf as a drilling site for the tunnel will have an opportunity to be heard at the Open Floor Hearing at Glaziers Hall,” said Rita Cruise O’Brien, chair of Save Your Riverside.

“The strength of community support is vital. We have an opportunity to let the Planning Inspectors know how devastating this proposal will be on our peaceful community, involving six years of work, three of those 24/7 with hundreds of lorries using local streets daily. For the sake of local residents, young and old and school children, we must make our views known. Please attend.”

Simon Hughes MP will be speaking at Friday’s hearing along with Cllr Peter John, leader of Southwark Council.

Cllr John said:  “We strongly believe these proposals will blight the lives and safety of families living in the Chambers Wharf area, day and night, for far too long, and just to make life a little easier for Thames Water.

“Our own assessment shows that the reasons given for creating the main tunnel drive at Chambers Wharf are not essential to the plans, there are other more suitable sites that have been dismissed out of hand that will have much less of an impact on fewer people, and Thames Water are wrong to suggest otherwise.

“I would welcome anyone who wants to come down and join us on Friday to show how strongly they object to these plans.”